An engaging fantasy with creative worldbuilding and authentically conflicted teen characters caught in a magical power...

THE VIRUS OF BEAUTY

Witches are falling victim to a magic-killing virus, and their only hope for a cure is to convince a teenager to accept his wizard heritage.

In this debut YA fantasy, 15-year-old soccer star Wilf Gilvary, living in present-day Hong Kong, wants nothing to do with magic despite his stern wizard father’s efforts to make his son use his gifts. After his father’s sudden death, Wilf still refuses to explore his powers when his 20-year-old stepsister, Myra, insists that they leave the normal world for new lives in the Magical Realm. A visit from a repulsively ugly and desperate witch forces Wilf to reluctantly accept that he is indeed a wizard. She informs him that the cure for the Pulch Virus, an illness that drains witches of their magic (and makes them distressingly beautiful as the disease progresses), resides only in his father’s journal, a work Wilf inherited. Unfortunately, he will be unable to read the formula for the cure unless he learns how to harness his abilities. Wilf ends up in the Magical Realm after all. There, his stake in events increases as he grows close to Katryna, a young witch infected with the virus, and as the journal and Wilf’s potential for performing potent magic place him in the sights of an unscrupulous wizard. In this promising series opener, Lyall skillfully deepens her world of wizards and witches with gender war elements. A magic Veil separates the domain of each group: Witches in wizard territory wear bracelets restricting their autonomy; unauthorized wizards in the witches’ realm face death. The characters’ believable motivations in this fast-moving tale range from self-interest, guilt, and fear to a desire for power and vengeance. Wilf deals with complicated and intriguing family relationships—Is Myra who he thinks she is? What painful secret from his past has blocked him from his magical potential? Other tantalizing questions include: Who is fomenting conflict between the Wizard Council and the Witch Council? What is the origin of the virus? What will happen to the balance of magic if the cure can’t be accessed?  

An engaging fantasy with creative worldbuilding and authentically conflicted teen characters caught in a magical power struggle.

Pub Date: July 31, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73600-270-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Hazel Publishing Company, LLC

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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